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Japan’s fighting dog, also a guard dog and companion


Japan has a long history of dog fighting, beginning in the 14th century. With such a history in the background, this breed was produced as hybrid of Shikoku-ken and Western breeds. The Western dogs used for creating the breed were Bulldogs (1872), Mastiffs (1874), German Pointers (1876) and Great Danes (1924) all of which were used to improve the breed by sequential mating. According to some accounts, St. Bernards and Bull Terriers were also involved but it is not known in which years they were used. The Tosa’s established features of stamina and the fighting instinct typically found in Mastiffs may be attributed to the involvement of such breeds. As a relatively new breed at the time, the Tosa suffered setbacks in development and establishment, particularly during WWI and WWII, when the numbers of all dogs, especially large breeds in Japan and throughout Europe, dropped. However, once the wars ended, the breed was standardised, and the remaining specimens were used to repopulate the breed to the Tosa of today.

OTHER NAMES – Japanese Mastiff, Tosa Inu, Tosa Ken, Japanese Fighting Dog, Tosa Token


The Tosa is a self-composed and self-confident dog of great strength and size. They are known for their enduring patience and courage. Tosas are naturally wary to aloof with strangers, at best, and often will not tolerate other dogs and pets well, especially dogs of the same sex. Although they are known for their loyalty and patience with their family, the Tosa is not an ideal pick for most companion settings. Their natural intolerance of other dogs and animals, coupled with their immense strength and head-strong temperament can make for a dangerous combination for the novice dog owner. Tosa responds best to positive-enforced training methods because of an inherent desire to please its owner. This breed matures slowly and individual dogs may not reach their prime until as late as four years of age.


This information is taken from kennel clubs and other reliable sources

PURPOSE BRED FORFighting, Guarding
TEMPERAMENTPatient, Courageous, Confident
EXERCISE NEEDED1 hour per day
HEIGHT – MALE60 cm / 24 in (to shoulder)
HEIGHT – FEMALE55 cm / 21.5 in (to shoulder)
COAT TYPEShort, Dense


  • Tosas are the canine equivalent of Sumo wrestlers and are treated with great honour and ceremony.
  • This breed is still heavily bred and utilised for in it’s home country of Japan to this day. For this, only the largest and most aggressive dogs are kept and selected for.
  • Tosas have been banned in several countries. However, some bloodlines have been long-removed from the fighting pits and some breeders have made efforts to breed out some of the aggression in this breed.
  • Tosa coat colours are red, fawn, black, brindle, brown and yellow
  • This breed is banned in some countries including – UK, Australia, New Zealand, Tunisia, Norway, UAE, Malta, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Romania, Fiji, Singapore and Israel.


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